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Feds Probe PG&E Gas Explosion In Cupertino

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Cupertino gas, leak, explosion

PG&E workers inspect a damaged gas line outside a Cupertino condominium, September 2, 2011. (CBS)

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CUPERTINO (CBS SF) — PG&E crews were going door-to-door at a townhouse complex in Cupertino Friday morning to inspect gas appliances and conduct a leak survey following a fire and the discovery of several gas leaks there on Wednesday.

The fire at the Northwest Square complex on Wednesday occurred a day after federal investigators faulted PG&E for a series of failures that led to the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010.

On Wednesday, the first gas leak at the Northwest Square complex in Cupertino was discovered around 12:30 p.m. by a PG&E gas service representative who was passing by the area and noticed smoke in the neighborhood, PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson said. A PG&E crew responded around 12:50 p.m. and stopped the leak by 2:30 p.m. “We had to physically dig holes at three locations to stop the leak,” Swanson said.

That evening, as crews were surveying the area they found six additional leaks in other parts of the 400-unit complex, including areas blocks away from the first leak.

Swanson said crews repaired the pipes that night and the following morning, then started going door-to-door and offered residents an inspection of their gas appliances and a leak survey of the immediate area outside their unit.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

At a meeting of the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington on Tuesday, chairman Deborah Hersman said that a “litany of failures” by PG&E and gas industry regulators created the conditions that caused the San Bruno gas line to rupture.

The resulting explosion and fire in the city’s Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood killed eight people, injured dozens more and destroyed 38 homes.

Crews were continuing that effort Friday morning as well as examining construction records, researching the complex’s leak history and gas odor calls as part of PG&E’s investigation into the cause of the leaks.

“We’re going to take any actions necessary to make this complex safe,” Swanson said. He asked customers to call PG&E’s customer service line at (800) 743-5000 if they smell even the faintest odor of gas or if they have concerns related to the gas leak.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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